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Best Online Tax Software for 2019

Andrew Martins, Writer
March 20, 2019

If you live in the U.S. and own a small business, tax season can be tough. Ensuring that you've properly paid Uncle Sam over the course of the year is just as important as making sure you can keep the lights on.

While most tax professionals will suggest you need to take them up on their services, especially since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act takes effect this year, you may still want to strike it out on your own. Without comprehensive tax software, you won't be able to properly maximize your credits and deductions, and you could make costly errors. With the right program, however, you will be able to navigate not only the labyrinthine rules that make up the Federal Tax Code, but your state tax code as well.

Our Best Picks

To point you in the right direction, we've reviewed some of today's top tax products and curated a list of the best online tax software available for small businesses, self-employed filers and tax professionals. We've also included our best picks for enterprise tax software and free tax software.

Best Overall

Best Overall Tax Software for Small Business
Intuit's TurboTax is the industry leader and our choice for best overall tax software for small businesses because of its powerful, comprehensive features.

Best for Self-Employed Filers

Best Tax Software for Self-Employed Filers
H&R Block is one of the major players in the tax software industry and is our pick as the best tax software for self-employed filers because of its years of experience and hands-on approach to its clients' tax needs.

Best Free Software

Best Free Tax Software
Many tax filing services offer free versions to help individuals with less complicated filing needs get their taxes done without breaking the bank, but TaxAct stood out in our testing as the best free tax software.

Best for Tax Professionals

Best Software for Tax Professionals
Drake Tax, our pick as the best software for tax professionals, is a comprehensive option that helps tax preparers and professionals ease their clients' tax filing experiences.

Best for Enterprises

Best Enterprise Tax Software
Thomson Reuters' tax solution, ONESOURCE, is designed specifically for corporations and can easily navigate the most complex regulations, even for global businesses.

Intuit TurboTax

Best Overall

Summary

Offering packages for small business owners who want to file their own taxes or get help from a CPA over the internet, Intuit gives its users the tools they need to file properly.

While it costs slightly more than similar software in this category, TurboTax's features and excellent customer service more than make up the difference. For instance, business owners using the highest-tiered service can search for industry-specific deductions, and the software also manages employee tax forms. TurboTax is available for download or online use, and it is compatible with mobile devices, so you can check on your return status when you're on the go. Should you be hit with an audit, TurboTax offers specialized audit support to make the process less painful.
Read our full review of Intuit TurboTax

H&R Block

Best for Self-Employed Filers

Summary

H&R Block makes it easy for you to get started by allowing you to import your previous returns from other tax preparers like TurboTax, TaxAct and Credit Karma. Small business owners will be best served by the company's Self-Employed package, which helps you find common business deductions, write off startup costs and fill out forms like Schedule C. Unlike some of its competitors, H&R Block discloses its prices upfront. If you want a tax professional to check and sign your return, however, you will need to spring for the highest tier.
Read our full review of H&R Block

TaxAct

Best Free Software

Summary

While there is no free downloadable software available, the web component allows easy access to the entire process. Users switching from TurboTax or H&R Block can import previous 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ forms. While it may lack the sophisticated features of paid programs, TaxAct still has some nice features such as step-by-step guidance, a deep glossary of tax terms and a free inspection of the return.
Read our full review of TaxAct

Drake Tax

Best for Tax Professionals

Summary

Touting its ability to "speed you through every step of preparing a return," Drake Tax allows you to move data between federal, state and city tax returns, or to override those features when needed.

The program also has tools to help you plan and analyze a client's taxes, with a dedicated planner and year-to-year comparison built in. Drake Tax also helps you create a version of your clients' returns for easy archiving to make future tax decisions easier.
Read our full review of Drake Tax

ONESOURCE

Best for Enterprises

Summary

It maintains a rules database that covers all U.S. and Canadian compliance regulations, as well as those for 180 additional countries. In addition, ONESOURCE runs entirely online, has a wide array of filing forms, supports filing in every state, boasts extensive reporting options, and automates the most arduous and time-consuming aspects of tax season.

The one caveat is that mom-and-pop operations or startups probably won't need this level of support; it would be overkill for smaller operations. But midsize companies and beyond will find ONESOURCE to be highly reliable, accurate and powerful tax software.
Read our full review of ONESOURCE

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Compliance

While all tax software on the market is compliant with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, it's important to know what this piece of legislation entails. Signed into law by President Donald Trump back in December 2017, the bill was touted as a measure that would bring financial gains to the middle class and small business owners.

To that end, entrepreneurs should be excited for this year's filing, since it's the first time the law's new 20 percent deductions will impact returns. The deduction is available for qualified business owners at the head of pass-through organizations, such as sole proprietorships, S corporations and partnerships.

While that all sounds great, some caveats were put in place at the bill's passage. Depending on if you're filing as a single or married person, what kind of business you run, and how much income you make, you may or may not be able to claim the 20 percent deduction. Other deductions were removed or altered, so the tax software you select should be able to walk you through these new rules.

Tax Software FAQs

Q: How soon can you file your federal income tax return in 2019?

A: When it comes to filing your federal income tax return, earlier is generally better. As soon as you get all relevant documentation in hand, you can file with the IRS. Employers have until the end of the year to send out their W-2s. Most other tax forms will be sent out during this time as well.

This year, the IRS didn't officially start accepting tax returns for the 2018 tax year until Jan. 28, after ensuring compliance with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Q: Which tax filing software is the best?

A: Through our review process, we determined that Intuit TurboTax is the best overall online tax filing software on the market. Its long list of features and easy-to-use interface, coupled with the ability to remotely get help from a CPA, make it a strong solution for most individuals and small businesses. With excellent customer service to guide users through the tax filing process, TurboTax sets itself above its competitors.

Q: What is the easiest tax software to use?

A: H&R Block's online software for self-employed filers is incredibly easy to use. Self-employed individuals already have a lot on their plates, so the fact that H&R Block's software makes filing taxes easier is a huge boon.

You can import tax returns from other vendors for previous years to speed up the data input. Self-employed taxpayers who sign up for the company's Self-Employed package can use the software to find business deductions and other beneficial rules that lower their tax burden while increasing their potential tax return.

The software's interface is easy to navigate, and unlike some of its competitors, H&R Block lists its tax filing costs upfront, giving prospective users an idea of how much the service will affect their wallets. The service also gives its users access to professional help, though that service costs extra.

Q: Why would you use tax preparation software?

A: There are many reasons why someone would want to use tax preparation software, but speed and accuracy are the two major factors. Before the advent of computer software to handle the tax filing process for you, people had to enter their information by hand over multiple forms, often writing the same information over and over.

With today's digital options, data input is as easy as scanning an existing form for the relevant information to be automatically added into the appropriate fields. What would take hours to complete by hand takes just minutes with a computer or mobile device.

As for the accuracy of online tax software, it's important to understand just how detrimental any errors or omissions can be to a taxpayer. In the IRS' eyes, such mistakes are grounds for audits, fines and other injunctions like levies against your assets. Today's tax software checks your filing for any errors before sending your documents to the IRS. Most modern tax software also checks for any deductions or credits that may be applicable to your particular tax situation, potentially increasing the amount you receive in a return.

Additional reporting by Adam C. Uzialko.

Ready to decide which tax software is right for your business? Here are more resources for you to consider before making your decision:

If you'd like your company to be added to this list and possibly considered as a best pick for our next round of reviews, please email your request to b2bconsiderrequest@business.com.

Our Methodology

To determine the best online tax software for small businesses and different use cases in 2019, we spent dozens of hours researching the top providers. Here is an explanation of our selection process.

Locating the Best Services

To choose the best online tax software for businesses, we started with a list of the reputable tax software companies we were already familiar with. We augmented our selection with companies we found in our research, including some from other online review lists, customer feedback and Better Business Bureau ratings. From there, we eliminated vendors that cater solely to individual taxpayers rather than business owners.

Choosing the Best Services

Of the initial set of companies on our list for consideration, 17 made the initial cut: Avalara AvaTax, BNA Corporate Tax Analyzer, Ceridian, Drake Tax, Halon Tax, H&R Block, Intuit TurboTax, Liberty Tax, Thomson Reuters ONESOURCE, Power Tax, ProtaxLink, Sigma Tax Pro, TaxAct, Ultimate Tax, UltraTax, uTax and Vertex SMB. Most of these companies were selected for a specific use case, though others fit various situations.

Researching Each Service

We then researched each finalist thoroughly. We dug into each vendor's features, watched online tutorials and how-to videos, and tested products when available. Customer ratings with the Better Business Bureau also played a factor, as they gave us insight into real customer experiences with the software. We then narrowed down the field to a handful of finalists in each category.

Analyzing Each Service

When the time came to select a best pick for each use case, we looked at a number of factors. We determined our best picks for online tax software based on features, pricing, ease of use, tax return disbursement options, filing options and access to tax preparation.

 
Full List
Best Picks

Full List of Tax Software Solutions

Here is a full list of online tax software and a summary of what each company claims to offer. This alphabetical list also includes our best picks, which are marked with badges.

1040.com

1040.com offers DIY tax filing with an interview-style filing procedure and free updates from prior filings. This software offers accuracy checks, e-filing with direct deposit for fast refunds, autocomplete state returns and encrypted data security. Additionally, 1040.com allows users to pay the balance with the refund for an additional fee.

Avalara

Avalara provides cloud-based tax services for businesses of all types and sizes. Services include multiple-entity support for every location and department across your organization as well as product taxability and address validation. For an additional charge, customers can access global calculation for international compliance, consumer use tax and landed cost calculations, and automated returns filing. Avalara integrates with your POS, CRM, CMS software and shopping carts.

BNA Corporate Analyzer

BNA Corporate Tax Analyzer automates and manages complex federal taxes. This corporate income tax management software provides a depreciation calculator, a multifunctional engine to calculate and track carryovers and carrybacks for complex tax attributes, and comprehensive, multiyear analysis for planning and decision-making. It includes tax and financial documentation to meet financial requirements, such as 10K, FAS 109 and FIN 48 and the ability to accelerate or fast-track the IRS audit process with optimal results and compliance documentation assurance.

Credit Karma

Credit Karma offers free federal and state e-filing for an array of common filing forms. The free software employs a Q&A style interview format to walk users through the tax process in a way that is simple to follow. Credit Karma is likely best employed by users filing for personal income tax.

Express Tax Refund

Express Tax Refund offers free customer support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An IRS-authorized e-file provider, Express Tax Refund uses the most current security to ensure client privacy.

Free 1040 Tax Return

Free 1040 Tax Return offers online tax filing services with expert customer support and systems designed with your security and privacy in mind. E-filing makes filing returns quick and safe, and receiving your refund via direct deposit fast and simple.

Free Tax USA

Free Tax USA offers federal filing services at no cost. This free service includes all federal filings from simple to advanced returns and everything in between. Free Tax USA processes all major tax situations: joint filing, dependents, home ownership, itemized deductions, self-employment and more. State returns are included for a small fee. The service offers a deluxe option, at an additional charge, with audit assist, phone support and amended returns.

H&R Block

If you're self-employed, a very small business or a pass-through entity like an LLC, H&R Block is more than powerful enough to cover your needs. It's highly helpful software also comes with access to help from tax professionals.

Halon Tax

Halon Tax specifically deals in tax services for businesses structed as either an S-corporation or LLC partnership. The company touts its ability to support its tax software with in-house tax professionals who can provide tax preparation services and a review by a CPA. Unlike other options, there is no need to download any software, though Halon Tax allows for the end user to upload their information via QuickBooks.

Intuit TurboTax

Intuit TurboTax is our favorite online tax software because it's easy to use, comprehensive, powerful and effective.

Jackson Hewitt

Jackson Hewitt provides clients in-office or online filing for qualifying returns. Jackson Hewitt offers a maximum refund and accuracy guarantee.

Liberty Tax

Liberty Tax offers personal and business tax preparation and the opportunity for online filing. This company guarantees maximum refunds, accurate calculations and a free double check of returns from other providers. Liberty Tax provides year-round support and correspondence and audit assistance.

ONESOURCE

ONESOURCE is a complete corporate tax solution for corporations with complex needs. Whether you're an international business or a mid-sized employer with a complex supply chain, ONESOURCE has you covered.

Online Tax Pros

Online Tax Pros provides two levels of tax services: Standard and Deluxe. The tax company provides free e-filing of federal taxes and customer support. For a small fee, clients can also file state returns and have returns reviewed by a tax professional.

ProtaxLink

ProtaxLink offers IRS compliance training and updating, ensuring tax preparers are efficiently trained for tax season.

Quicken

Quicken offers several different software options to help you plan a budget. It also simplifies, minimizes, and organizes taxes and deductions.

Sigma Tax Pro

Sigma Tax Pro serves tax professionals with professional tax software that includes technical and tax-prep support. It has three software options with easy form-based inputting, support for all federal and state forms, file conversion, coverage for all filing statuses, prediction mode and real-time calculations.

TaxAct

TaxAct offers step-by-step, online tax preparation with three pricing options. Features include data import options, free customer service and audit risk reduction.

TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer online tax preparation software provides e-file capabilities from multiple platforms: laptop, tablet and smartphone. Professional tax representatives are on standby to help with questions and check returns to ensure accuracy and quick processing.

Ultimate Tax

Ultimate Tax provides professional tax software for novice and seasoned tax preparers. All plans include a launch pad, daily service availability and context-sensitive help. Interview mode is an included option.

Ultra Tax

Ultra Tax from Thomson Reuters is professional tax software for tax preparers. Its timesaving tools, multiple monitor flexibility, checklist for instant preparation, data-sharing between returns and efficient asset entry simply the tax preparation process.

Vertex SMB

Vertex SMB offers corporate tax solutions and services. For tax planning, Vertex Tax Accounting uses breakthrough technology, increasing accuracy and efficiency in a secure manner. The Vertex Tax Performance Engine collects detailed combinations of data with an advanced data management technology.

eFile

eFile's tax service offers a FILucator to determine if filing is necessary and a tax calculator to ascertain if and how much of a refund may be available. eFile offers three tiers of service: a free basic return, a deluxe service for processing returns with dependents, mortgages and retirement, and a third tier for self-employed taxpayers that need itemized deductions and all other forms and schedules.

eSmart

eSmart is an extension of Liberty Tax Services. It provides a credit maximizer, electronic W-2 import and live customer support online (both on the phone and in person). eSmart imports previous taxes to simplify filing and offers professional audit assistance. With eSmart, taxpayers choose from four tax-filing solutions, ranging from Free, Basic (for families), Deluxe (for investors) and Premium (for business owners).

uTax

uTax employs the front line of today's technology in its tax software. With a built-in document manager, multioffice and multiplatform capabilities, and a mobile application, uTax brings cutting-edge solutions to tax preparation.

Drake Tax

Tax professionals and preparers need tax software, too, and Drake Tax delivers a top-notch solution for preparing clients' tax returns.
Andrew Martins
Andrew Martins, Writer

Andrew Martins is an award-winning journalist with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Ramapo College of New Jersey. Before joining Business.com and Business News Daily, he wrote for a regional publication and served as the managing editor for six weekly papers that spanned four counties. Currently, he is responsible for reviewing tax software and online fax services. He is a New Jersey native and a first-generation Portuguese American, and he has a penchant for the nerdy.